Man, the play style of BlazBlue has gotten popular, hasn’t it?
At the most recent event held by XSeed, I was able to sit down for a number of rounds with their latest fighter, Nitroplus Blasterz, a 2D fighter starring a heaping load of characters I’d never heard of. That’s fine, creating a new franchise in the fighter space, that’s bound to happen (unless you’re building from the Persona brand), but what’s surprising is these aren’t actually “new” characters. They’re just new to us, North American and European players at least... unless you’ve been importing visual novel software from Japan over the past 15 years.
NPB is a melding of popular characters from under the same company banner (not unlike Capcom or SNK before it) and pitting them against one another. The story here is thin, some all-powerful being is mixing up characters by combining dimensions to see if there’s something that doesn’t bore her (that’s the story, not making it up) and making them fight one another. And so, an all-female cast is combined to collectively beat the snot out of everybody else. At first I winced at the plot device, but then I thought, “Eh, I’ve heard worse for a fighting game," and now it’s just neat.
Built by the same dev team behind the Arcana Heart series, Nitroplus Blasterz: Heroines Infinite Duel (that’s an unwieldy title) is built to fight like the hectic and colorful BlazBlue with simple controls, built for combos. For every fight there isn’t just the one fighter to control but three: one to do the primary fighting and two support characters that can be called a number of times throughout a match after a “charging” period. Each has their own characterizations, which I’m sure are specific to how they are in their respective visual novels, and some even come with special animation like a Limit Break of some kind.
With 14 characters and a host of supporting cast of about 20, the game can accommodate six unique characters onscreen at once, and while it feels hectic doing so, it’s all well-thought-out and interesting to watch. Seeing a girl with something of a demon arm fighting a girl that throws cats, interrupted by the summoner of a robot that rains laser-hell while another rides her frilly pink shooter around screen… it just doesn’t get old.
It feels easy to grasp for a fighting game character, with a few neat perks. The best I found was the “custom combo” system, which when activated (a charged meter allows for it) starts a combo of whatever you’ve pressed for a limited time. If you can manage a hit to ensure the combo will work, it’s a button masher’s dream come true: whatever you can press in that timeframe, it’ll land no prob. It takes time to load, and like any other combos in games it can be over before it’s begun easily enough by an executed block, which there are two of here: the standard holding away from an opponent, and a button that if used properly can set up a counter to do some massive damage (or evade entirely, depending on how you’re moving while using it).
Not every player was available for play, but they all felt unique and different, kind of mixing BlazBlue with the King of Fighters in the best of ways. It feels fun and balanced, and I’m looking forward to getting my hands on the finished product to see what other weird supports are available. The game is set to release by the end of this year, with Fall 2015 as the official line, and includes crossplay between both PS3 and PS4 versions of the game so nobody’s left out. And if the demonstration is any indication, Nitroplus Blasterz has “just one more” written all over it.